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NIT Tournament 2019: Bracket and Schedule with Round 2 on Approach

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 21, 2019

Indiana's Juwan Morgan (13) and Aljami Durham (1) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the NIT tournament against Saint Francis, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 89-72. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Tournament season is alive and well in men's college basketball, and we're not just talking about the First Four play-in games.

The NIT, for instance, is already rolling into its second round after 16 games went in the books Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The former mostly went according to script, but the latter was full of surprises.

No. 1 seed Alabama received its walking papers in an 80-79 overtime loss to No. 8 seed Norfolk State. A couple of six seeds sent three seeds home early, with Harvard scoring a 71-68 knockout of Georgetown and Wichita State clawing out a 76-70 ouster of Furman.

The 16 teams who escaped the first round have time to quickly catch their breath before the next round of win-or-go-fishing high-stakes hoops.

Here's a look at the tournament's updated bracket and upcoming schedule after concluding the first round.

             

NIT Schedule: Round 2

Friday, March 22

Memphis at Creighton, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU

Saturday, March 23

Arkansas at Indiana, 12 p.m. ET on ESPN

Lipscomb at UNC Greensboro, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN

Sunday, March 24

Wichita State at Clemson, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN

Xavier at Texas, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN

Harvard at NC State, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU

Nebraska at TCU, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU

Monday, March 25

Norfolk State at Colorado, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2

              

Top Game To Watch: 5 Lipscomb at 1 UNC Greensboro

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 01: Isaiah Miller #1 of the UNC-Greensboro Spartans brings the ball up court during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on December 1, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

UNC Greensboro almost made history as the first Southern Conference team to earn an at-large NCAA tournament bid. But once Oregon captured the Pac-12 tournament championship, Greensboro instead became the final team bumped out of the Big Dance.

Head coach Wes Miller's Spartans had to settle for a different kind of history, instead. After securing the top overall seed in the NIT, they opened their tournament run with an 84-69 win over Campbell, giving the program its first postseason victory since it jumped to Division I in 1991.

Not they stopped to savor the moment, though.

"It's a really interesting team. Nothing is ever enough for them. And I mean that in a good way," Miller said. "They're proud that they won tonight. They're proud that they're still playing. But they're not jumping around in the locker room. They expect to win."

Greensboro did a ton of winning this season. It played to a 29-6 record, and even that might undersell the squad's performance.

Three of the losses came against Wofford, which scored a No. 7 seed in the Big Dance after winning the Southern Conference. Another was an eight-point defeat at LSU, a No. 3 seed in the tournament. It also dropped a contest it led at halftime to Kentucky, which scored a No. 2 seed in March Madness.

In other words, the Spartans deserved all the respect they were shown by the selection committee. But the fact their success is probably news to most of you shows how little spotlight this group gets and how much more it might savor an NIT opportunity than, say, a basketball blue blood with a rich tournament history.

Motivation shouldn't be an issue. But it's possible the opposition will be.

Lipscomb also sits on the short list of the best teams you've never heard of, having put together an as-good-as-it-sounds 26-7 record.

Two of the seven defeats were against No. 11 NCAA tournament seed—and trendy upset pick—Belmont. Two more came against No. 12 seed Liberty. Another was just a four-point road loss No. 7 seed Louisville. The Bisons also knocked off Liberty once and scored a road win over then-18th-ranked TCU back in November.

Coach Casey Alexander's group is legit. KenPom.com puts Lipscomb 49th overall, making it one of just eight top-50 teams not to get an NCAA tournament bid.

While KenPom likes Lipscomb's offense (51st) and defense (55th) almost equally, the former played the biggest role in helping it defeat fourth-seeded Davidson 89-81 on Tuesday. Four different Bisons scored in double figures, as the team posted a blistering 53.6/52.4/81.8 shooting slash.

Saturday's showdown between UNC Greensboro and Lipscomb might lack for name recognition, but it's strong in all the areas that matter. You won't want to miss it.  

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